Unlike America, the economy in Australia is booming. Anyone who wants to work is employed. The big worry here is inflation. Like America and other developed nations, Australia faces an aging population, the burden of chronic disease and a growing shortage of qualified healthcare professionals.
Today, I head home after what has been a whirlwind 4-city, 5-day tour of this lovely continent. This is my third visit here in as many years. I had an opportunity to meet with IT professionals, hospital executives and clinicians who are interested in optimizing infrastructure, measuring performance, and providing safer, higher quality care to the citizens of Australia. We visited Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth; Austin Health, Western Health and Northern Health in Melbourne. In Brisbane, we had an opportunity to speak at a large gathering of executives and clinicians at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, a 1000 bed public teaching hospital and research facility. Yesterday in Sydney, we met with IT professionals and executives from surrounding states. Some of these men and women represent public systems that serve as many as 8 million citizens across 120 hospitals.
Australians enjoy the benefits of a very robust public health system. Yes, like large systems anywhere there are issues around access, patient safety, efficiency and cost. But no one here goes bankrupt trying to pay their medical bills. Executives and clinicians I met are keen to embrace information technology as a means to improve on a system that’s already pretty good. There’s also a growing public interest in e-health. This was evident in invitations I received to participate in interviews for 88.3 Southern FM in Melbourne and nationally broadcast programs for ABC Radio and Sky TV News in Sydney.
I leave Australia exhausted, but in the very capable hands our our local account executives including Malcolm De Silva and Nichole Whyte in Perth, David McLaren in Melbourne, Reid Elliott in Brisbane, and Stephen Edwards in Sydney. I’m also very proud of our growing team of health industry experts in the region; Dr. David Dembo, Dr. Bruce Ross, and Dr. Mark Parrish among others. Special thanks to Renee Cathcart for organizing my visit.
Like a solidly built ship with a few barnacles on its hull, public health in Australia is being refitted with capable executives and clinicians, new facilities, and contemporary technologies as it sets sail on a new era in healthcare delivery; one in which information technology will play an increasingly important role.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation